Commentary

Top 10 NFL draft steals that failed

They were absolute steals on draft day, but perhaps teams who passed were correct

Originally Published: July 12, 2011
By Rivers McCown | Football Outsiders
Leinart/BushUS PresswireMatt Leinart and Reggie Bush haven't lived up to expectations so far in their pro careers.

When Aaron Rodgers fell to the Packers with the 24th overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft, it was an apt definition of the word surprise. In the buildup to that draft, a majority of personnel men, mock drafters and other experts had Rodgers running neck-and-neck with Utah's Alex Smith for the first overall pick. Not only did Rodgers tumble out of his expected draft range, but he was taken by a team that employed one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time: the revered Brett Favre.

Players like Rodgers and Randy Moss (21st overall pick in the 1998 NFL draft) were high-profile wins for the philosophy of drafting for value rather than need, but a pick that looked excellent at the time isn't always the right one. Just as there are plenty of busts who were drafted for need, drafting for value over the past 25 years hasn't always yielded players who lived up to their college résumés. The circumstances behind these players not working out are varied, but as you'll see, injuries are definitely a dominant theme. Even this year's "draft steals," like the Saints' Cameron Jordan, are not sure things.


10. Reggie Bush, RB, New Orleans Saints (second overall pick, 2006)
A decent NFL player with a unique skill set, Bush is a running back who can cause matchup problems when used as a slot receiver. Five years ago, though, he looked like an absolutely transcendent talent in the Coliseum: A franchise running back who could redefine the position with his receiving skills. Unfortunately, he hasn't played all 16 games since his rookie year, and he has never shown the good vision that is a trademark of great NFL running backs. He's averaged just 4 yards per carry over his career, and by Football Outsiders' DVOA ratings, he's contributed just one above-average season carrying the football, and that was just over 70 carries in 2009. He'll never be the superstar he looked like he'd be in college, and the Texans have been vindicated for passing him up for Mario Williams.



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Rivers McCown

Football Outsiders
Rivers McCown is an associate editor for Football Outsiders.